How about something a little less deep and controversial than we've had this past week--a dissertation on old friends. I called my best friend from high school yesterday; it was his 38th birthday. We haven't talked in a couple of years, and that's pretty sad. From the middle of 5th grade through the day he was best man at my wedding, there was no question that where you saw one of us, you'd see the other. Then we went to different colleges, our lives took different directions, and now we only make contact occasionally. Same thing with my college roommates--we shared the best apartment at USC and had the time of our lives. The four (really five, if you count Andy, who did everything at our place except sleep) of us took turns being in each other's weddings, and I never dreamed there would come a time when we were not close. Yet I only see one of them even annually, and the others just exchange Christmas cards (if that). What happened?
Partly, I suppose, is the stages of life we have gone through. I got married younger and had kids younger than most. I was "old" by most of my friends' standards at 25. It is telling that the one college roomie I keep in touch with has children the same age as my youngest two. Part is geography--we just moved to different towns and got caught up in life. Part is economics--I became a schoolteacher, they (for the most part) became doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. Part of it is values--I didn't become a serious Christian until my first child was on the way. To a certain extent, it's like the old "bait and switch" sales technique--not that any of my old friends were ever overtly hostile to faith, but for me to suddenly have vaules completely centered around a topic that wasn't even on the radar when we were in school is almost like asking them to accept a brand new guy as a friend. There are consequences to trying to lead a genuinely transformed life.
The more I think about the "old" friends, and as much as I hope that some of the "newer" friends I have now never grow apart (and that's less likely, I think, because there's a lot less dramatic "growing up" to do and more gradual "growing old" at this stage), the happier I am that some of my dearest friends now are family. It tickles me to no end that my wife's brother, whose tenth birthday party I attended, is now in his 30's, and a great friend of mine. It helps that he's a committed Christian, and helps even more that he's married now (and his wife is a genuine friend, too). I have already blogged about my long friendship with my other brother-in-law, who was my running buddy long before he ever dated my sister. But the coolest thing is that I have had the opportunity to have my sister as a friend. Just as I grew apart from some friends, it seems that the two of us have grown together. We got married (her to a friend of mine, me to a friend of hers) at nearly the same time, had kids about the same age, and both became committed Christians at around the same time. We stayed in the same town and wound up in roughly the same economic situation. We didn't even really like each other that much as children or teens, but time has a way of smoothing things out. "Her" music that I hated to hear come through the walls (Def Leppard, btw) is now something I smile when I hear it on VH-1. And the older we get, the more we discover how deep (and polluted) our gene pool must be--from the same goofy smile, to a very similar sense of humor, to an affection for straight desks and DayTimers (although, anyone who knows us will tell you I'm merely anal, while she's psycho). On a day when I am struck by how fleeting even the best of relationships can be, it is rather comforting to know that some folks are forever. As an aside, if anybody who reads this blog wants to "meet" my sister--the link to "Lorifitz" on the right side of this page is her (I drove first, but she blogged first).